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Night Sky
Philippe Don captured this Milky Way night sky from Uruguay

Stop Polluting the Night Sky

Bay Lights is trying to raise $11 million to light up the Bay Bridge, couldn't this money be spent for better purposes?

•••••••••• January 27, 2023 ••••••••••

"In ways we have long understood, in others we are just beginning to understand, night's natural darkness has always been invaluable to our health and the health of the natural world, and every living creature suffers from its loss." The End of Night by Paul Bogard

Ben Davis, who is responsible for bringing us the Bay Lights, is looking for more money. $11 million is needed to keep the lights on, and he's out there trying to raise it. Davis and his organization, Illuminate, put lights up all over town, especially in Golden Gate Park.

Where would Ben Davis and Illuminate be without the dark of the night sky? Without the dark, the Bay Lights and Illuminate's lighting displays would be meaningless, invisible. They depend on the dark, they need the dark, but they have no respect for it. They take it and use it to their advantage, pay nothing for it and do nothing to mitigate the damage they may be causing. They are exploiting a natural resource that belongs to everyone.


The Bay Lights are also a waste of energy. Our resources are precious, and we shouldn't be using them in displays of lighting that serve no practical purpose. And really, aren't there better uses for the $11 million they're trying to raise?”

The Bay Lights are also a waste of energy. Our resources are precious, and we shouldn't be using them in displays of lighting that serve no practical purpose. And really, aren't there better uses for the $11 million they're trying to raise?

"... light pollution poses a serious threat to nocturnal wildlife, having negative impacts on plant and animal physiology. ... The rhythm of life is orchestrated by the diurnal patterns of light and dark, and disruption of these patterns impacts ecological dynamics." Connie Walker, A Silent Cry for Dark Skies, The Universe in the Classroom.

Before the advent of electricity, the night sky was everyone's favorite picture show. There is an age-old fascination and sense of wonder in observing the stars, moon and planets. The night sky is our common heritage, our link with past cultures and our ancestors. We should all be doing what we can to preserve the dark of the night sky. Artificial light only obscures the celestial lights, which have always been humanity's true source of awe and wonder.

"Today, as light pollution envelopes our planet, the stars are almost gone. Instead of thousands being visible on a dark night, in today's cities, we see only a few dozen (and astronomers fear these will soon be vastly outnumbered by artificial satellites). Most people in the United States and Europe can no longer see the Milky Way at all. It is a catastrophic erosion of natural heritage: the obliteration of our connection with our galaxy and the wider universe." The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars by Jo Marchant

We need to reduce our energy use and light pollution. Both can be accomplished by letting the Bay Lights go dark. To reduce our impact on the planet and climate, we should be guided by dark sky lighting principles: Useful – All light should have a clear purpose; Targeted – Light should be directed only to where needed; Low Light Levels – Light should be no brighter than necessary; Controlled – Light should be used only when it is useful; Color – Use warmer color lights where possible. To learn more, visit the International Dark Sky Association website at

David Romano is an environmental activist living near Ocean Beach

January 27, 2023

David Romano.
David Romano

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